2015 Abu Dhabi Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: In the end, the top 10 drivers finished the season standings paired off in the same order as the top five constructors point getters. F1 has always been about the car. And always will. However, how many of you would have bet that Kvyat would beat Ricciardo and Perez would beat Hulkenberg? Not to mention Button beating Alonso.
EVENT: Despite what some pundits say, this is still a horrible event to end the season.
QUALIFYING: Rosberg's pole domination continues as he crushes his teammate, Ferrari's brain trust is anything but, Raikkonen saves them, and Perez continues his undefeated qualifying record against his teammate at the Yas Marina Circuit.
RACE: Last year was an aberration.
TRACK: Yas Marina was back to producing a mostly processional race.
START: Hamilton gets off a touch slow, this time Maldonado is the victim, Sainz goes like gangbusters, and Vettel even more so.
ROSBERG: If there were a second half championship... The most obvious question everyone is asking is can Nico perform this way when a championship is on the line?
HAMILTON: Nothing but excuses for Lewis in the last three races.
MERCEDES: Now they set their sights on three in a row ... while looking over their shoulders at Ferrari.
RAIKKONEN: A resurgent race for Kimi ... but is that only because Vettel was not a factor?
VETTEL: A fine run through the field ... now, if he gets a better car in 2016...
FERRARI: The qualifying idiocy aside, the Prancing Horse has made huge strides this year under new management, technical forethought, and driver leadership.
PEREZ: An absolutely fantastic performance by Sergio down the stretch this season. An even better car in 2016 could see great things from Checo.
HULKENBERG: It's tough to see it any other way, but Nico's shine has definitely worn off by the way he has been so soundly beaten recently by his teammate.
FORCE INDIA: With possibly new infusion of money, Mercedes engines still with them, and the success of this year, this team could be poised to make the next leap.
WILLIAMS: A team that always seems to be ready to take that next leap, but always manages in the end to disappoint.
RED BULL: Team Whining Babies concludes the year with most likely the same engine they will start with next year, no matter what name they slap on it.
GROSJEAN: Romain grabbed the car by the horns and produced a wonderful finish to his Lotus career.
LOTUS: If Renault doesn't become their savior, they are done. Kaput. Fini.
VERSTAPPEN: Definitely answered all his critics this season. And most importantly, was great fun to watch for the fans.
ALONSO: Outscored by his teammate for the first time in his career (he tied Lewis Hamilton in 2007). However, Fernando outscored his teammate in the number of times he wanted to quit a race...
MCLAREN: There is no other way to look at this. It was a disastrous season of epic proportions.
HONDA: The embarrassment this once, great engine manufacturer must be feeling...
MANOR: Once again, this team enters the offseason with more questions than answers. Their top management team left, the owner may be selling, and no drivers have been announced.
MALDONADO: There was only one DNF the whole race, and it was Pastor. Not even making it a lap. It wasn't even his fault. Unless you believe in karma.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Offseason.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 12 -- The number of Mercedes 1-2 finishes this year, breaking their own record set a year ago. They also became the first team to notch over 700 points (703), though that's due mostly to points inflation.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Ron Dennis said Lewis Hamilton has gone "off the rails" but it's more like Dennis continues to go off the rails with ridiculous quotes like this one: "If he was at McLaren he wouldn't be behaving the way he is because he wouldn't be allowed to." Hey Ron, you know what else Hamilton wouldn't be allowed to do if he was still at McLaren? Win!
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Sebastian Vettel as he lapped Fernando Alonso, "I just lost a second with Alonso. I mean he must really hate me. I don't know what's wrong with him." Probably more jealousy than hate...
SCHEDULE: 21 races. Possibly. A grand prix in Azerbaijan. Possibly. Germany back on the calendar. Possibly. Monza staying put. Possibly. The USGP in trouble. Possibly. What we do know is we'll see you on March 20th in Melbourne!
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